To the Expositor:
I just wanted to say a few words to the people of this great island. When my wife and I first came to Manitoulin in 1980 we camped at Sun Valley on Lake Kagawong but when Doug and Lois closed up the next year (I believe) they referred us to Norm’s Resort, on the north end of Lake Kagawong. Bev and Stella Huckle were the perfect hosts, but sadly Bev passed away in 2002, leaving Stella to run the resort. She reached out to Bev’s stepson Steve Milliner for help and help he did. Steve was the perfect person for the job, as he was an extremely hard worker. With the help of a few of the seasonals Steve kept the resort running smoothly and continues to do so. Stella lives in a seniors’ home in Espanola and is going through a tough time, but she is at peace. She has a good man in Donnie by her side.
When our kids were old enough to travel with us from our home just northwest of Toronto, we brought them with us and Cabin B became their second home each summer. My five siblings all spent time at the cottage. My parents were staying with us until there was an opening in Cabin A, where they became fixtures for the next 12 years. My parents took advantage of all the quality time they shared with the grandkids, by taking them for ice cream, swimming and sitting around the fire telling grandpa jokes, until mom passed away in 1997. Since the kids knew Grandpa worked for Air Canada for many years, they were always amazed how he knew where every plane in the sky was going. Dad only came up a couple of times after mom passed because there were too many memories of her up there. Once I caught mom laughing as she rose from her chair outside to go in to get changed for the third time that day. She knew when she came back out everyone would notice and kid her about it. A practice repeated many, many times over the years. The late-night UNO games were legendary, often finishing at 1 or 2 am. Watching mom try to cheat was in itself enough entertainment for the night. I can safely say, no one at the table has ever laughed harder than they did there.
I could very easily write a book of our time at the cottage and everything the Island taught my family. Through the years we have introduced 60 people to the Island and two thirds of them returned for at least a second visit. Not I, nor can anyone else, explain the magnetic strength that draws people back to the Island. I recall a 95-year-old gentleman telling us many years ago about the time he and his two brothers left the Island in the 1930s for jobs at the Ford plant in Detroit. They made good money back then but four years later they were back home on the Island because they were homesick.
I often wondered years ago if my kids would ever want to come up when they reached their teenage years. The answer was yes, they never missed coming up and now they are in their late 30s, they are still coming up on their own when their schedules allow.
It would be literally impossible for my family to give back to the Island as much as we have taken from it. The lessons learned of the Island and those who inhabit it will stay with us forever. Over the years I found those who live on the Island to be very accommodating when approached with respect. They will open up if they know you will listen. If you do them a favour they will reciprocate twice.
So, it is with a heavy heart we end a 40-year adventure on the Island so we can begin a new one. We plan to seek new adventures on a country-wide road trip over the next few years. As nice as the Island is we believe there’s still much to see and experience across this great country while we are still relatively healthy. We will continue our Expositor subscription to stay in touch with the happenings of Manitoulin.
After seeing the rest of Canada, I’m sure I will return in three years and report to you of how fortunate you all are to be living on the nicest piece of property in the country.
Steve and Cece Burke